Although the first phone conversation between Ukraine and China’s leaders on possible solutions to end the Ukrainian war marks a new start in relationships between the two countries, still, the Ukrainian premier said on Thursday, that the plan for peace remains the one outlined by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“That conversation has opened a new phase in the relationships between Ukraine and China and I’m convinced that it will be a good start for the development of our ties in the future,” Denys Shmyhal told a press conference at Rome’s foreign press association.
“But we have our roadmap for peace, which has been set by Zelenskyy,” he said, reiterating that peace would not be possible until all Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian troops are freed.
“Only in that case we could be sure of reaching a stable, fair and long-lasting peace,” Shmyhal said.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping had a one-hour long phone conversation with Zelenskyy on Wednesday, which the Ukrainian president defined as “long and meaningful.”
Beijing has been trying to facilitate talks for peace between Kyiv and Moscow, announcing that an envoy — a former ambassador to Russia — would visit Ukraine to seek a “political settlement.”
Zelenskyy, however, is sticking to his proposed peace formula, announced at a November summit of the Group of 20 (G-20) key economies.
The plan calls for nuclear safety, focusing on restoring security around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine, which is now under Russian control.
Another two key points are food security — including protecting and ensuring Ukraine’s grain exports to the world’s poorest nations —and energy security, with a focus on price restrictions on Russian energy resources. The plan also calls for aiding Ukraine with restoring its power infrastructure, half of which has been damaged by Russian attacks.
Moscow has rejected Zelenskyy’s peace proposal and insisted that it would not give up any territory it has annexed.
The Ukrainian premier concluded on Thursday his two-day visit to Rome, where he also attended a bilateral conference on Ukraine’s reconstruction hosted by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, which attracted on Wednesday hundreds of Italian companies.
Shmyhal also visited the Vatican on Thursday morning, where he met Pope Francis. He said they discussed possible steps the pontiff may take to help the peace process, adding that he invited Francis to visit Ukraine.